Development of Orthographic Knowledge and the Foundations of Literacy: A Memorial Festschrift for Edmund H. Henderson

By Shane Templeton; Donald R. Bear | Go to book overview

Afterword

Frank Vellutino

The papers presented in this volume are rather unique, and, taken together, represent an important contribution to the literature concerned with how children learn to read and spell. I say this for three reasons. First, they provide convergent and compelling documentation for Edmund H. Henderson's theory of developmental reading, and, in fact, constitute the first major test of the theory. In my estimation, Henderson's theory provides a very interesting and plausible account of the ontogeny of reading and spelling, especially as regards the relationship between these two skills. To see why I believe this, let me briefly review its essential features.

The theory is embodied in a set of assumptions about changes in the way in which the developing reader represents printed words over time and postulates an intrinsic relationship between word recognition and spelling such that the child's misspellings directly reflect his/her emergent knowledge of orthographic structure and letter-sound invariance at any given point in his/her development. It further postulates that such "word knowledge" emerges in stages and that one is able to infer, from the types of spelling errors the child makes, both his/her stage of development, and his/her approximate level of reading and spelling ability, relative to children at earlier or later stages of development. Certain types of error patterns are said to be characteristic of given stages, and are presumably diagnostic in the sense that they reflect how given spelling patterns are represented by the child at a particular stage. In fact, the types of spelling errors that are considered to be especially revealing have been catalogued with such specificity that word lists have been constructed as a vehicle for soliciting errors that would pinpoint stage of development, and attendant processing and response biases, so as to facilitate the development of an individualized educational pro-

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